On Tuesday, Sheldon Richman and I had another podcast chat. As usual, Richman’s depth of knowledge was impressive and made it difficult to keep up (in the best possible way). So did his passionate rants against the warfare state (but that was because I had my thyroid removed, which makes raging slightly more difficult!).
Check him and me out. We covered Iran, Iraq, Syria, ISIS, and the horrors of the 2016 class of hawks, as well as the old school neocons’ plans to remake the Middle East in their own image.
You can listen to an audio-only version of the podcast series over here. And check out Sheldon and my other chats here. (And while you’re at it, Scott Horton’s “Eye on the Empire” series with Jeffrey Tucker is also a very worthy watch.)
Opponents of the Iran deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – loudly complain that it deals only with the nuclear issue. Why, they ask, didn’t the P5+1 talks also take up Iran’s detention of Americans and its alleged machinations in the Middle East?
They should ask the Israelis.
It was, after all, Israel’s leaders who insisted that the nuclear file be addressed first and on its own, and who pushed back hard against any attempt to forge a more comprehensive understanding or grand bargain with Iran.
Moreover, Iran offered a comprehensive grand bargain to the United States in 2003, in which all outstanding issues would be discussed, including Iran’s support for the Palestinians. Indeed, as part of the proffered grand bargain, Iran accepted Saudi Arabia’s previous Arab Peace Initiative (2002, renewed 2007), which would have included recognition of Israel in a two-state context. President George W. Bush gave Iran’s overture the back of his hand, having branded Iran in 2002 as a member of the Axis of Evil along with Iraq and North Korea. (This was a fine thank-you for Iran’s cooperation after the 9/11 attacks.)
The neocons are looking to make a big comeback. Job one is to rehabilitate the Iraq war fiasco by re-writing history. It was not lies and manipulation that brought the US into the Iraq war, they claim, but it was only “faulty intelligence.” And Dick Cheney is coming out with a new book urging the US to “rebuild” the military so that it can engage in more pre-emptive wars! Will they succeed? Tune in to today’s Liberty Report:
As a number of outlets have reported, Chelsea Manning faces a disciplinary board on Tuesday for four alleged violations, including brushing crumbs on the floor, disrespecting an officer, keeping toothpaste past its expiry date, and keeping items deemed contraband, including the Vanity Fair issue on Caitlyn Jenner.
Manning will not have a lawyer at the hearing, and over the weekend authorities refused her access to the prison law library. She may receive indefinite solitary confinement as punishment for these absurd alleged offenses.
Along with that list of seemingly trivial items, Leavenworth officials also confiscated an item that goes to the core of the whistleblowing that landed Manning in prison in the first place: the Senate Torture Report.
Chelsea Manning faces the threat of solitary confinement, which most countries and many psychologists consider torture, because she was reading the Senate Torture Report.
Recall that among the events that led Manning to provide information to WikiLeaks was when she was ordered to “assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki” – people who Manning discovered were actually criticizing Maliki’s corruption. Manning realized that by helping the Baghdad Police, US forces would be helping put them “in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police [where they would be] very likely tortured.” In an effort to thwart US complicity in torture, Manning leaked classified materials to WikiLeaks, including information on Iraq’s Wolf Brigade, a unit that conducted torture the official US policy on which was to ignore.
Three years after Ecuador’s government granted political asylum to Julian Assange in its small ground-floor London embassy, the founder of WikiLeaks is still there – beyond the reach of the government whose vice president, Joe Biden, has labeled him “a digital terrorist.” The Obama administration wants Assange in a U.S. prison, so that the only mouse he might ever see would be scurrying across the floor of a solitary-confinement cell.
Above and beyond Assange’s personal freedom, what’s at stake includes the impunity of the United States and its allies to relegate transparency to a mythical concept, with democracy more rhetoric than reality. From the Vietnam War era to today – from aerial bombing and torture to ecological disasters and financial scams moving billions of dollars into private pockets – the high-up secrecy hiding key realities from the public has done vast damage. No wonder economic and political elites despise WikiLeaks for its disclosures.
During the last five years, since the release of the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, the world has changed in major ways for democratic possibilities, with WikiLeaks as a catalyst. It’s sadly appropriate that Assange is so deplored and reviled by so many in the upper reaches of governments, huge corporations and mass media. For such powerful entities, truly informative leaks to the public are plagues that should be eradicated as much as possible.
Notably, in the US mass media, Assange is often grouped together with whistleblowers. He is in fact a journalistic editor and publisher. In acute contrast to so many at the top of the corporate media and governmental food chains, Assange insists that democracy requires the “consent of the governed” to be informed consent. While powerful elites work 24/7 to continually gain the uninformed consent of the governed, WikiLeaks has opposite concerns.
In a recent piece on Foreign Policy, titled, “No One Talks About Liberating Mosul Anymore,” Michael Knights wrote about the necessity of training better Iraqi forces and unleashing U.S. airpower in Iraq to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS).
“It’s time to let the US military get creative with partners on the ground – and let pilots above open a can of whoop-ass on the Islamic State,” reads the epigraph of the piece.
Knights couldn’t be more wrong about a prescription for the situation. He’s doing what neoconservatives usually do in situations like this – ignore history itself.
This kind of bravado associated with caricatures of the American military has no foresight about the consequences of increasing military action. Let’s say we follow through on Knight’s proposal and bomb Mosul back to the Stone Age – then what? Reoccupy the country? And then what?
Knight would most likely respond that he favors drastically increasing the Iraqi Train and Equip Fund from its purportedly meager sum of $1.6 billion in 2015 to its previous levels during the 2005-2008 surge. But how successful was that strategy that he proposes for our Commander-in-Chief?